THE STORY of how Natura Bissé was founded isn't particularly glittering or glamorous, but the brand has so grown in reputation since its launch in 1979 that today it often adorns the faces of some of the world's most famous. There are tales of Beyoncé bequeathing jars of its moisturiser to all her friends and family, of red-carpet regulars like Penelope Cruz and Kate Hudson putting their names down for its famed pre-Oscars facial ritual, and, of course, there's the Oxygen Bubble Facial renowned for making stars cameraperfect in just one quick session.
It's a none-too-shabby success story for a label that's still wholly family-run after more than three-and-a-half decades in the business. At its helm today is Veronica Fisas, the daughter of founder Ricardo, who shares her father's drive for finding new miracles in skincare and hopes that Spain's most revered beauty brand can remain a family affair, even as it takes on Hollywood and beyond.
Your father founded the brand more than 35 years ago. How did the concept first come about?
My father came from a company that worked with hydrolysing amino acids, but their idea was for food. He came up with the idea of how you can cut the protein from amino acids to make food more digestible – so if that is OK for food, then why not for penetration in skin and for skin purposes?
With this idea, he said, “I am going to create my own company”. First he did some tests with different hospitals, with burn patients to see how they reacted. The test [results were] amazing, so that was where the idea came about. Five creams were what we started with. We started first in Spain, and after 15 years we then had the opportunity to move to the States.
When it comes to skincare, you don't automatically think of Spain or Barcelona – people think of Switzerland, France, nowadays Korea. Was there a big skincare culture when you first launched?
We don't have an industry awareness about [Spanish] cosmetics, but in Spain we sell morecosmetics than shoes, than wine and olive oil, which is what people normally know about [the country]. In fact, we have a big tradition in pharmaceuticals from big companies. There is a big cluster of industries around health, so the tradition is there.
Which of the lines are best for Asian skin concerns? Diamond, Oxygen and Essential Shock. You're now celebrating 15 years of the Diamond line. How did you first come up with the concept for this line of skincare?
Diamond came the year after we entered the States. Our clients were asking for global antiageing products, and that's how we came up with the idea of diamonds, to take the anti-ageing process into a whole new concept that wasn't there. Normally, when you think about antiageing, you think about nourishing, protection and hydration. The combination of the three of them is a plus. And then we added energy to the cells to boost the cells themselves.
Tell us about the concept behind your cultfavourite Oxygen Bubble Facial, which takes place inside a man-made bubble filled with oxygen?
The concept is to have that atmosphere and cocooning. It is both things, it is the experience of breathing pure air, plus the cocooning and having the treatment in that ambience. It is very relaxing, detoxifying, so helps sleep.
Let's talk about Beauty Lovers Day. This is quite a nice idea that goes back to your Spanish heritage.
Yes, and as you mentioned, you don't really relate beauty with Spain, so that was the idea. I remember the first time I arrived in the States, [we were calling it] “Natura Bissé: European Skincare”. Someone said,“You are French? Italian? Swiss?” And we said, “No we are from Spain,from Barcelona”“Put Barcelona!” he said, so then we changed the name and we put “Natura Bissé Barcelona” [on the packaging].
Also the Mediterranean area and lifestyle was something that's inherited in the line and everything in the collection. We decided we should celebrate with our clients, pick a day which will describe a little bit about Natura Bissé and the history of Barcelona, everything.
We have this festival on April 23 in Barcelona,when we celebrate St George's day. Normally all the women buy books and give them as presents to their husbands or boyfriends, and the boys buy one rose as a present for their mothers or girlfriends or wives. It is a beautiful day and the start of spring. So we picked that day because it is a nice day ... and why not?
Now you're in charge of the company, what do you hope to accomplish as the new generation of the brand?
Well, continuity is very important. Second, to engage the project as its second generation. The first [generation] founded it, and we have to have our own ambition of what we want to pass onto the next generation also, so that is the project: growing the business size and thinking about the third generation and how we are going to approach that jump. That is really important. With family companies normally – and we are 100 percent a family company – it is only 20 to 25 percent of family companies that have been passed along three generations. That is very small. The nice thing is that the ones that do are 35 percent more profitable than other companies. Also, you have to professionalise this company, you need new blood and new people to make the project bigger. So it is a challenge.
In what areas would you like to see the company grow?
Distribution, that is one. You know that we are very much into skincare, but not hair, not make-up, only skincare – so in that approach, we can grow.